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Originally published Tuesday, March 22, 2005 at 12:00 AM

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Women's College Basketball

SPU depth on display in Elite 8

The early-season box scores foreshadowed Seattle Pacific's formula for success, long before the Falcons ripped through last week's West...

Seattle Times staff reporter

The early-season box scores foreshadowed Seattle Pacific's formula for success, long before the Falcons ripped through last week's West Regionals and advanced to the NCAA Division II women's basketball Elite Eight for the second straight year.

Just 10 games in, 10 different Falcons had nights scoring 10 points or better.

That's depth.

"That's what makes us so successful," says Mandy Wood, a junior guard from Port Angeles who was named the regional tournament MVP.

"Having our second team come in and keep up the same intensity, the same flow of the game the starters do, I think we just wear teams down."

A lot of teams like to talk about how anyone can step up on any given night. The No. 3 Falcons (28-2) come into tomorrow's national quarterfinals against No. 9 Grand Valley State (Mich.) having proved it for an entire season. Tipoff is scheduled for noon Pacific time at the Hot Springs Convention Center in Arkansas.

Tomorrow

Seattle Pacific vs. Grand Valley State in Hot Springs, Ark., noon

The Falcons average 79.3 points per game. But their top scorer, senior point guard Amy Taylor, averages only 12.5.

Six players have led the team in scoring in a game. Eight average five points or better for the season. Eleven play at least 11 minutes per contest.

All of them subscribe wholeheartedly to coach Gordy Presnell's relentless run, run and run-some-more approach to offense. The subs come every few minutes, in waves.

"We know if we push it, the other team is going to get tired before we are," says Wood, who averages 11.5 points. "It's that mental edge."

Grand Valley State (28-5) coach Dawn Plitzuweit is wary of SPU.

"They do a great job of pushing the ball up the court. They make great decisions," Plitzuweit says. "We're going to have our hands full in trying to slow them down."

The Lakers, making their first trip to the Elite Eight, will rely heavily on two backcourt players, junior Niki Reams (18.8 ppg and 8.7 rebounds) and sophomore Erika Ryskamp (12.6 ppg).

Added motivation for Seattle Pacific is the bittersweet taste left over from last year, when the Falcons showed up with an undefeated record and a No. 1 national ranking, only to be drubbed by Drury University.

"Hopefully, we have a little more hunger this time," Presnell says. "Hopefully, we're not in a stage of 'We're happy to be here.' Those happy-to-be-here games will kill you."

Michael Ko: 206-515-5653 or mko@seattletimes.com

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